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They might not be the reigning mens’ doubles champions, but two South Carolina Republican gubernatorial candidates are members of a controversial “whites only” country club that continues to make national headlines as GOP officials across the country deal with the growing perception that they have a racial problem.

Carroll A. “Tumpy” Campbell III, son of former S.C. Governor Carroll A. Campbell Jr., is or has recently been a member of the Forest Lake Country Club, according to sources at the club and documents obtained exclusively by FITS.

He joins current S.C. Attorney General and all-but-announced gubernatorial candidate Henry McMaster, who has been a member at the club for several decades – a fact not widely known until we reported on it last week.

Forest Lake, as you may recall, garnered national ignominy back in the late 1980’s when it refused to grant a customary membership to Ft. Jackson’s commanding military officer because he was Jewish.

Jews have since been allowed to join the club, but not blacks – a stipulation written into the deed of the property on which the club sits.

This policy of exclusion came to the fore earlier this year when current SCGOP Chairman Katon Dawson resigned as a member of the club shortly before announcing his bid for RNC Chairman – a move many still view as opportunistic.

We’d like to point out that there’s nothing illegal about the club’s refusal to admit black members, nor is there really anything wrong with it … at least not in our book.

Private clubs – white or black – should reserve the right to reject anybody they like. That’s why they’re called private clubs.

You can start a private club today and refuse to admit redheads if you want. You’d be crazy (think Angie Everhart), but that’s your right.

The problem is that in 2008 – even in South Carolina – being a member of an all-white country club probably isn’t going to go over well with most folks, particularly not when you’re running for governor.

In fact, our guess is that Campbell and McMaster’s pollsters are busy right now trying to find out just how big a hit their respective candidates will take on this issue.

Stay tuned …